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What preposition is best in this sentence?

I would rather you arrived on time to school.

I would rather you arrived on time for school.

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  • This is one of those cases where more than one preposition will work. You could use at, too: I would rather you arrived on time at school. – J.R. Dec 1 '18 at 13:32
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Whilst both of your examples are grammatically correct, in my opinion, the more natural phrase might be:

I would rather you arrived to school on time.


I think the nuances between your two examples are dependent on how to interpret the meaning of the word school, for example:

to school

Uses school in the noun sense, implying arriving on time at the building.

for school

Uses school in the verb sense, implying arriving on time for schooling.

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    This brings up an important point. Looking at the title, it seems the OP has asked, “Which is the best preposition to follow ‘on time’?” But as you point out, the preposition choice has nothing to do with the phrase on time; it’s all about the word(s) that follow (in this case, “school”). One other point, we could change “on time” to “early” and the prepositions would stay the same: I would rather you arrived to school early. But if we change “school” to something else, the preposition might change: I would rather you arrived at the airport on time. – J.R. Dec 1 '18 at 13:49
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    @J.R. Agreed; and your last example agrees with my explanation of the difference in use of for, as, whilst you would say I would rather you arrived at the airport on time, if you were instead to use for, you would refer to the action you intend to do at the place, e.g.: I would rather you arrived for the flight on time. / I would rather you arrived on time for the flight. – Lee Mac Dec 1 '18 at 13:55
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    Apparently you're not alone in thinking arrived to school on time is natural (that's 127 written instances in Google Books). But personally I would always use arrived at school on time (750 instances). – FumbleFingers Dec 1 '18 at 14:19

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